Monday, September 24, 2018

THE BAILY ULTIMATUM - PART 3: O.T.I. REGIME CHANGE UNIT

by Sasha Uzunov
Skopje, Macedonia


PART 1 - THE BAILY ULTIMATUM - Questions about Macedonia -link here 
PART 2 - THE BAILY ULTIMATUM - Bringing the Heat -link here

As TEAM UZUNOV has revealed, the U.S. State Department has officially claimed that its funding to NGOs and general activities of USAID in Macedonia are all above-board, both in public statements and official letters to legislators. Since Ambassador Baily did not respond to TEAM UZUNOV’s questions, we have to assume he shares that opinion.



OTI: BAILY’S ACHILLES HEEL
However, there is one lingering scandal that has been an open secret in Macedonia, discussed in the local media for over two years- though oddly enough, nowhere else in the world. This is in reference to USAID’s semi-secret ‘regime change’ unit, Office of Transition Initiatives (OTI), which was created by former President Clinton in the 1990s to give a ‘rapid reaction’ capacity to USAID activities. In reality, it is somewhat a combination between the Peace Corps and the CIA, and in Macedonia has come under severe ridicule while causing great stress among embassy bigwigs.

CUBAN TEMPLATE?
OTI has gotten into trouble before, as a 2014 Guardian report disclosed its secret plan to build a ‘Cuban Twitter’ first of all, seeming innocuous, but with definite regime change goals. The article reads:

‘Documents show the US government planned to build a subscriber base through "non-controversial content": news messages on soccer, music, and hurricane updates. Later when the network reached a critical mass of subscribers, perhaps hundreds of thousands, operators would introduce political content aimed at inspiring Cubans to organise “smart mobs” — mass gatherings called at a moment’s notice that might trigger a Cuban spring, or, as one USAid document put it, “renegotiate the balance of power between the state and society.” - link to Guardian article here

To organise the OTI Cuba operation, the newspaper said, required much mischief: “to hide the network from the Cuban government, they would set up a byzantine system of front companies using a Cayman Islands bank account, and recruit unsuspecting executives who would not be told of the company’s ties to the US government.”

A very similar thing happened in Macedonia, under the purview of Ambassador Baily. Given his failure to respond to TEAM UZUNOV’s questions, it is unclear who requested the mission- which was definitely not specified anywhere in the July 2015 Przino Agreement for reforms, signed by Macedonia’s four major political parties.

-(The OTI Macedonia keeps an official webpage here: www.usaid.gov/political-transition-initiatives/macedonia)

OTI was used in the Balkans before, such as to help take down Milosevic.

All that is known for sure is that by September of 2015, USAID in Washington DC was holding secretive job interviews for a mission in Macedonia. This would infer that the background plan for the program had been made earlier- possibly even before the controversial July Przino Agreement, which itself was signed only five months after tennis playing Ambassador Baily’s deployment to the Macedonian theatre.

You cannot be serious ?
SECRET CLEARANCE NEEDED FOR AID WORK? - Handing out pens, brochures ? Unless of course it’s not aid work?

Although USAID has always claimed its programs for civil engagement, media and NGOs are benign and harmless one has to wonder why (according to an official job application form for the position), a Security Clearance-level Secret is required. ( Request for Personal Services Contractor - see below).

To cover its tracks locally, OTI contractors were hired through the Washington firm AECOM, given a separate address, and kept away from Baily and other prominent Embassy persons.

Even stranger, the USAID head in Macedonia (then, James Stein) sent official requests to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs for a Special Identity Card for OTI contractors, not the typical residency or work ID that most foreigners get. They do this, it is believed, to make sure OTI staff qualify for some kind of diplomatic immunity- even though they are private contractors and not diplomats.


Although Macedonian government officials and intelligence services clearly knew all about the OTI’s activities in organising concerts, working on political radio shows, youth networking throughout the country, etc., they gave the operators a wide berth, fearing to upset their American overlords.

However, at times this was humiliating: a former intelligence official fired after the coming of the SDSM government tells TEAM UZUNOV that “the OTI operators were directly involved with the Colourful Revolution organising… we saw them literally going into the shop to buy the paint that the Soros activists would then throw at monuments- but never Albanian monuments, of course.”



This direct involvement of USAID operators with violent activists during 2016 was one of the many questions that Ambassador Baily refused to answer when asked by TEAM UZUNOV. The Colourful Revolution crowd – composed of hard-leftists as well as political opportunists and pro-Belgrade chauvinists – used a cut-and-paste communist rhetoric, street protests and signs that echoed the catchphrase used by Soros-funded groups like Black Lives Matter in the USA (‘No Justice, No Peace,’ or ‘Nema Pravda, Nema Mir’ in Macedonian)

Although Macedonia successfully created a new government and now seems on the verge of changing its name in the controversial referendum of 30 September 2018, OTI lingers on in Skopje. There’s a comical contrast between what the OTI says of itself on its ‘highlights’ page and what local information obtained by TEAM UZUNOV discovered. See link here

As for the official ‘highlights,’ the above-cited official OTI website lists activities that are suspiciously to the Cuba model- that is they seem innocuous but have a political goal. They are:

Professionalising the Macedonia media environment.  USAID/OTI supported the creation of political debate show “Only the Truth” as part of a wider media portfolio. The show presents civil dialogue and diverse viewpoints on critical issues affecting Macedonians. ”Only the Truth” has succeeded in presenting issues in a non-partisan way, changing perceptions of the media environment in Macedonia.

Promoting citizen participation in public discourse. Activities such as “Transforming Public Spaces” use the arts to create social change by promoting discussions that encourage citizens to engage in positive actions in their communities.

Supporting key institutions to implement critical reforms, consistent with EU standards. The Government of Macedonia, governed by a new coalition, is undertaking a bold and long-overdue set of legislative, policy and systemic reforms. USAID/OTI is providing assistance to reorganise, equip and enable key sectors of the Macedonian government, better positioning it to advance the democratic reform process.

Despite these optimistic words, TEAM UZUNOV found that Macedonians themselves felt differently. During the 2016 period of peak activity/Colourful Revolution, a few journalists (most notably, Mirka Velinovska of the long-running newspaper Dnevnik) lampooned OTI and its activities. However, since SDSM took power, the long-running newspaper was shut down and no media criticism of the powerful American regime-change operation can be found.

Velinovska lost valuable traction after becoming obsessed with the catchy phrase of The Umbrella (chadorot) to describe the US’s all encompassing reach in or cover of all aspects of life in Macedonia. This allowed any crackpot with a bizarre theory such as Freemasons etc to hitch their wagon onto Velinovska for better to worse.

In private Macedonians have different opinions. One local academic denounced the OTI radio call-in show as “a total failure” and another local complained that its television program was “obviously political, favoring SDSM.” All of TEAM UZUNOV’s sources agree that the USAID program appeared to work in tandem with the same Soros-linked NGOs that roused attention from conservative lobbyists and the U.S. Congress in the first place.

“The foreign media and government call us anti-American, pro-Russian, dangerous nationalists,” the former intelligence officer told TEAM UZUNOV. “The truth is, we could have done a lot of damage to OTI and secret groups like it, but we left them alone- and that is because we see America as our ally, even despite everything they do against Macedonia.”


Sunday, September 23, 2018

THE BAILY ULTIMATUM - PART 2 BRINGING THE HEAT


THE BAILY ULTIMATUM - Part 2 - Bringing the Heat !
By Sasha Uzunov
Skopje, Macedonia 


Like the film character Jason Bourne, U.S. Ambassador to Macedonia Jess Baily seems to be suffering from some memory loss- that’s one way to interpret his inability to respond to TEAM UZUNOV’s written questions, sent to him by email several weeks ago. It should be noted that in a live encounter on 29 August 2018 Mr. Baily did say he would ‘think about’ answering, but dismissed all 23 of TEAM UZUNOV’s questions as ‘bullshit.’ The reader can make up his or her own mind about this depiction after reading the articles to follow. 

- previous article Part 1 of the BAILY ULTIMATUM at this link here 

BAILY- BRINGING THE HEAT

Ambassador Baily has been no stranger to controversy, indeed even before coming to Macedonia he was already stirring up emotions as he referred to Macedonians as ‘Slavs’ in his 2014 Senate confirmation hearing. That caused the then-Gruevski government to issue a protest note, as Balkan Insight reported on 22 September 2014. see link here 

The British website also reported Baily’s comments in that hearing regarding his future plans- ‘he said that during his term in Skopje, he will pay particular attention to the improvement of media freedoms and trust in the judiciary in Macedonia.’ This is particularly ironic given that Baily would not respond to TEAM UZUNOV’s questions, nor indeed has he stood up to the current Macedonian government’s banning of TEAM UZUNOV for spurious reasons from the recent press conference of U.S. Defence Secretary James Mattis in Skopje.




After Ambassador Baily finally arrived in Macedonia in February 2015, his image took considerable hits as he was seen to be partisan (pro-SDSM) during the wiretap scandal, in the drafting of the Przino Agreement of July 2015, that created another very controversial body (Katica Janeva’s Special Public Prosecutor’s Office) and paved the way for early elections that were held on 11 December, 2016. Baily was criticised by many Macedonians for the U.S. role in the so-called ‘Colourful Revolution’ that helped SDSM take power and, especially, for the U.S. failure to oppose the post-election ‘Tirana Platform’ of ultra-nationalist ethnic Albanian demands, signed in the office of Albania’s Prime Minister Edi Rama.




U.S. Fingers on the Funding: EWMI and the NGOs
The former and present U.S. governments’ claims of ‘Russian interference’ in Macedonia are particularly bizarre in that the U.S. and not Russia is the superpower that spends millions of dollars annually in funding for quasi-political NGO programs that have included support for violent left-wing movements. While USAID has a massive footprint in the country, no similar Russian aid program exists- aside from the EU and its programs, the only other foreign country with a visible presence is Turkey and its development agency, TIKA, albeit on a much more modest level.

As TEAM UZUNOV exclusively reported last year, Mr. Rama’s ex-wife Delina Fico just happened to be on the U.S. books at election-time, working with the coordinative grant-managing body dealing with Macedonian NGOs, called the East-West Management Institute. Leaked emails between the Macedonian NGO activists involved revealed their excitement to be working with ‘big players’ in the U.S. through this scheme. see link here

New official data on EWMI collected by TEAM UZUNOV proves that this organisation is in reality just a USAID/State Department front group. EWMI’s 2016 financial disclosure statement - see link
states that ‘the Institute received approximately 91% and 88% of its total revenue in 2016 and 2015, respectively, either directly or indirectly from the USAID. Any significant reduction in the level of support from the USAID could have a material adverse effect on the Institute’s programs.’

The document adds that the Institute’s ‘government revenue arises primarily from contracts, cooperative agreements, and grants’ from USAID and the State Department for ‘judicial reform, legal aid, and rule of law programs in Cambodia, Albania, Georgia, Vietnam, Serbia and Sri Lanka,’ in addition to ‘training and support for non-governmental organisations, grassroots networks, public policy, and human rights programs in Azerbaijan, Cambodia, Georgia, Kyrgyzstan, and Macedonia.’

Ironically enough, soon after Baily’s offensive ‘Slav’ referenced caused tensions in Macedonia in 2014, the not-yet-appointed ambassador did get some support in parts of the local press- including one website, Factchecking.mk, which decried a ‘media smear campaign’ and ‘hate speech’ against Baily. see link here 

Yet after the article proper (which was written by a Macedonian) the following disclaimer indicates that the Embassy was essentially writing its own damage-control PR with the story!

This analysis was created within the framework of the USAID Media Strengthening in Macedonia Project – Media Fact-Checking Service Component, implemented by Metamorphosis. The analysis is made possible by the generous support of the American people through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). The contents are the responsibility of its author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Metamorphosis, USAID or the United States Government. For more information on the work of USAID in Macedonia please visit its website (macedonia.usaid.gov) and Facebook page (www.facebook.com/USAIDMacedonia).

BATTLE LINES DRAWN – THE BAILY OFFENSIVE
Ambassador Baily became even more controversial during the Macedonian election period- which was followed shortly by the shock election of Donald Trump as U.S. president in November 2016, an event having major impact for the Macedonian expectations, particularly among VMRO-DPMNE, that the new administration might call off its attack dogs in the State Department and Embassy. However, this did not happen.

Although it won fewer MP seats than expected, the winning VMRO-DPMNE party was technically capable of forming a coalition with old partner DUI, the main ethnic Albanian party. However, Baily’s direct pressure quashed this possibility, a Macedonian former MP tells TEAM UZUNOV: ‘on election night, they were celebrating in the DUI shtab (headquarters). They thought they will have a new coalition. But then a phone call from the U.S. Embassy came and they were told to forget that idea, because VMRO-DPMNE would not be allowed to be in power.’

This claim is not as shocking as it might appear, considering the consistent involvement the U.S. has always had in Macedonian politics. At the same time, the Embassy was forced to issue a public statement denying that its staff had entered the premises of the State Election Commission (DIK) during the vote tallies and recounts. The statement read in part: ‘let us correct the record to clearly state that the U.S. Ambassador has not met with, visited, or intervened with anyone at the SEC.




Regardless of what happened or didn’t happen, no question the Embassy was under withering assault and felt it had to defend itself. This got worse as Edi Rama’s interference with the ‘Tirana Platform’ resulted in months of street protests (the ‘Ilinden4’ movement) and a deadlock on forming a government, as President Gjorge Ivanov refused to grant SDSM’s Zoran Zaev a mandate unless he abandoned the ultra-nationalist Albanian demands, citing the Macedonian constitution.

RAPID-FIRE ACTION- INTRIGUE FROM SKOPJE TO WASHINGTON

The drama heated up when VMRO-DPMNE supporters additionally took measures to point out the longstanding ties of both SDSM and the USAID grant-making schemes to billionaire philanthropist George Soros, with a campaign called Stop Operation Soros. see link here 

All of this scrutiny brought the tension to a fever pitch. A local Macedonian source on good terms with US Embassy officials tells TEAM UZUNOV that the Ambassador was ‘absolutely livid’ at the official letters sent by American parliamentarians inquiring into his mischief-making. 

Republican Senator Mike Lee on 17 January inquired about the Embassy’s political role. see link here 

On the same day, Congressman Christopher Smith and five others sent a similar letter, which TEAM UZUNOV publishes here. 










































The Congressmen gave Baily two weeks to reply to questions about “credible reports” that during Baily’s tenure the Embassy had “actively intervened in the party politics of Macedonia” along with media and civil society interference. On top of that, the congressmen asked Baily to specify his own role in negotiating the December 2016 elections, as well as the two scuppered ones earlier in the year that were cancelled for various reasons.

A Macedonian-American diaspora activist in Washington with tight connections to some US political heavy hitters recently told TEAM UZUNOV that “Baily was getting all his supporters lined up to support him, nobody was sure what the new Trump Administration was going to do and there was a real fear that he might no longer be able to pull the wool over everyone’s eyes.”

This concern was increased when the influential conservative group, Judicial Watch, also announced an investigation into the role of government funding for Macedonian NGOs, announcing on 28 February2017  that Soros was giving millions to destabilise Macedonia. see link here 

The next day the conservative watchdog announced that it would launch an investigation into the Skopje Embassy itself in regards to its funding of Soros-linked NGOs loyal to SDSM, reported MIA see link here

On 3 February, then-State Department Spokesman Mark Toner issued a statement that the department had “full confidence” in the Skopje Embassy and in the beleaguered Baily. 




On 14 February, the Embassy issued a brusque press release that it ‘had responded’ to Senator Lee. 




BAILY’S ‘SHERIFF”S BADGE’ LETTER FROM MACMANUS 

However, the legislators were persistent and only after a letter of 14 March did the senator receive an official reply, dated 23 March, which TEAM UZUNOV is publishing here.  




The letter, written by Joseph E. Macmanus (pictured below), combines the usual legalese with claims that are highly controversial, if not outright false. For example, the apparatchik writes that “U.S. foreign assistance is not used to support political party agendas or to influence a particular political outcome.” It lists generic adherence to USAID guidelines, but ignores any questions about Baily’s specific engagement, just noting generalities like USAID is used for “funding and support for democratic reforms and civic engagement,” and so on. 


The Washington source tells TEAM UZUNOV that ‘it really shows how scared Baily and the Embassy were about the congressional investigations- he didn’t just have his boss Hoyt Yee or someone else write a nice letter on his behalf, Baily had to get an official letter from the State Department’s legal division. Macmanus is a heavy-hitter, a former Hilary Clinton insider who has had a long career, even working for Obama on the Iran deal negotiations. But this was like Baily’s get-out-of-jail free card, as after that they were not hassled much, and especially after the 27th April parliament events [attack in parliament], nobody in DC could support the VMRO-DPMNE position.”

When asked to elaborate the Washington source said simply that “the VMRO-DPMNE advantage was that Baily’s Colourful Revolution group, which was commemorated here by things like art shows, had been violent. So SDSM, and frankly Baily, they needed something violent to blame on VMRO-DPMNE, which they got with the parliament storming. So after that it was like a moral equivalence argument, and no lawmakers were willing to stick their necks out for the government. Baily won the same way SDSM got their mandate, through violence, which was the same way they got their last mandate after the war in 2002.’

Ironically enough, the story does not end there. The official State Department biography of Macmanus lists his impressive career results. see link here 

Even more bizarre, later in 2017, Donald Trump nominated him as ambassador to Colombia- a nomination which drew criticisms from Republicans due to Macmanus’ close ties to Hilary Clinton!  see link here 



REGIME CHANGE - NAME CHANGE - BAILY’S END STATE IS THE END OF THE MACEDONIAN STATE? - Mission Complete? 

It is no coincidence that the dramatic and earth shattering changes that have taken place in the Republic of Macedonia over the past four years have “coincided” with Ambassador Jess Baily’s tour of duty - from toppling the previous VMRO-DPMNE government, flawed and corrupt in its own right, to installing another government that of Zoran Zaev’s SDSM, and it too flawed and corrupt but holding absolutely no scruple in breaking promises about keeping “red lines” over national interest such as name change of Macedonia into North Macedonia and signing the Prespa Agreement and the Bulgarian Good Neighbourly Agreement, both seen as capitulatory.

The Russian “interference” in Macedonia narrative used is nothing more than a convenient label to stick on anyone who deviates from the Ambassador’s view. It’s been clever to some extent but seriously flawed - namely the key US supporters in Macedonia are ex Serb strongman Slobodan Milosevic supporters who were anti NATO and anti US (and by default pro Russian) at one point and cynically have jumped on the NATO/US bandwagon - for opportunistic reasons and to cover up their own previous “naughty behaviour.”

US Embassy insiders have told TEAM UZUNOV that the diplomat can’t wait to get out of the country soon enough. If the 30 September 2018 referendum in Macedonia goes without a hitch and Macedonians swallow the fantasy in believing that by changing their identity they will enter EU utopia and that NATO membership will automatically confer riches, then the US diplomat leaves Macedonia with mission complete stamped on his US State Department personnel file and on to a well deserved vacation.

Thursday, September 20, 2018

THE BAILY ULTIMATUM PART 1 - QUESTIONS ABOUT MACEDONIA


WHEN FACT BECOMES MORE EXCITING THAT HOLLYWOOD ACTION FICTION

by Sasha Uzunov
Skopje, Macedonia

The United States’s Ambassador to Macedonia, Mr Jess Baily, has been a controversial figure from day one of his appointment in 2014. It’s hard to separate the various myths, legends and facts about him and his omnipotence. Some have attributed to him enormous superpowers and involvement in many wild conspiracies which are simply downright silly and do nothing to throw any light on his activities. Moreover, he is not a popular man amongst Macedonians in general because of his behaviour or perceptions about his behaviour, especially a pro Albanian bias.



TOUR OF DUTY

But one thing is certain he has played a key role in Macedonia being on the threshold of changing its name and identity in order to gain NATO and European Union membership. The US diplomat’s tour of duty has coincided with the controversial Colour Revolution of 2016 which led to vandalising of Macedonian monuments and brought “regime change” in Macedonia - the removal of Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski - the 27 April 2017 attack in the Macedonian parliament; US State Department official Hoyt Yee strong-arming the Macedonian President George Ivanov into giving Zoran Zaev of the Social Democrats (SDSM) a mandate to form government; a disputed election of the new Parliamentary speaker Talat Xhaferi; the Tirana Platform; the Good neighbourly deal with Bulgaria and the crucial Prespa Agreement signed with Greece. What now remains is a referendum to be held in Macedonia on 30 September asking in a convoluted way will Macedonia’s change it name in order to secure Greece not vetoing Macedonia’s NATO and EU bid.

In other words will Macedonian identity have to be sacrificed for US strategic needs, that is bedding down the Balkans and keeping the Russians out, and appeasing Bulgarian, Greek and Albanian nationalist demands in Macedonia? Is it a cynical case of the path of least resistance for Washington? Is it easier for the US to satisfy NATO members Bulgaria, Greece and Albania? During the US diplomat’s tenure the fear of Russian “interference” in Macedonia has been talked up to obsessive levels but the interesting thing is Ambassador Baily’s willingness to embrace those in Macedonia who were once anti US and pro Serb strongman Slobodan Milosevic and who have now opportunistically hitched their political wagon to NATO. This reveals a Machiavellian side and raises questions of morality; of political expediency and dare we say it, deceit? - more on the Prespa Agreement at this link here - more on the Bulgarian Good neighbourly deal here - more on the Tirana Platform here

The delicious irony is the US diplomat’s behaviour or perceptions of his behaviour has turned many Macedonians who were pro US away from US foreign policy in Macedonia and given Russia some steam and influence in Macedonia, though not of the proportions that are being claimed.

Ambassador Baily remains elusive in fact he refuses to answer certain questions dealing with Albanian extremism and perhaps this fuels the distrust many Macedonians have towards him.



Recently in 2018, Team Uzunov blog contacted Ambassador Baily a number of times requesting an on camera interview in order to get his side of the story over many controversial issues relating to Macedonia. Last year he declined an on camera interview but his media spokesman answered a list of questions sent to him - see link here.

This time around Ambassador Baily has not responded at all to a list of questions below - which over a number of future articles will be examined in more detail.

QUESTIONS FOR THE US EMBASSY IN MACEDONIA FROM TEAM UZUNOV




1. How did the US embassy help to facilitate the Katzen Art Center’s fall 2016 photo exhibit on the ‘Colourful Revolution?’ What was the purpose of this exhibit? Do you think it helped put a positive spin on US backed protests and other events in the summer of 2016 broadly associated with the pro-SDSM Colourful Revolution’? link here



2. Did employees and/or contractors of US government programs literally buy the paint from the shop in Skopje (that was used for throwing paint bombs at monuments in the summer of 2016)? Was that within the mandate of USAID’s mission?

3. Why did [US diplomat] Hoyt Yee resign from his position in the [US] State Department?

4. A cover image of the tabloid Slobodan Pechat, which favors SDSM, depicted Mr Yee as karate-kicking President Ivanov into accepting the terms of a new government, perhaps a nod to his Asian ancestry. Do you think this was a racist cartoon that crossed a line?

5. Did any US Embassy officials counsel Zoran Zaev in his approach to phrasing the words of the paper he signed to win the mandate from President Ivanov? If so, what did they do?

6. Who were the American advisers who helped draft the Prespa Agreement, and what parts in particular did they draft?


7. In numerous cases, Macedonian media [see articles - links below] has proven personal relationships between Embassy employees (including the ambassador) and persons involved closely with political parties, the Special Prosecutor’s Office and most recently, the new head of the Bureau of Public Safety, Saso Tasevski, had close relations with Ambassador Baily and was in trainings with the FBI (not to mention took part in shootings in parliament on 27 April 2017). Even the country’s Eurovision song contest contestant last year was the daughter of the Ambassador’s personal assistant. Do you acknowledge that Macedonian critics have a point when they allege that the ambassador has an outsized influence in the country? links here and here

8. How was the McCann (www.mccann.com.mk) advertising company selected to work on the fall 2016 campaign with AECOM Skopje? Do McCann personnel have any lingering connections with embassy personnel?

9. In Ambassador Baily’s 2014 Senate Confirmation Hearing, he referred to the Macedonians as ‘Slavs’. As an expert on the region, surely he would have known this was understand as a racist and pejorative term. Why did he use this term?

10. The last foreign trip of former CIA Director John Brennan was to see Albanian PM Edi Rama right before the Macedonian elections of December 2016, not long after which the Macedonian-Albanian political leaders met in Rama’s office to agree the so-called ‘Tirana Platform’ of extreme nationalist ethnic Albanian demands, that let to months of protests in Macedonia. To what extent was your embassy involved with Brennan in arranging the progress of events that led to this Platform? Why would the Embassy knowingly back and then refuse to criticise an ethnically chauvinistic program, especially in consideration of the historical sensitivities in the region? links here and here and here 

11. Explain the process of how the Embassy coordinated with Brennan before his trip- how early, whether you are satisfied with the result obtained?

12. Media groups that do not support the 30 September referendum such as Republika have complained that the government is censoring similar people online. To my knowledge, your embassy has not criticized this policy. Why?

 http://english.republika.mk/alibi-for-massacre-of-media-critical-writing-about-the-referendum-dimitrov-says-its-orchestrated-spreading-fake-news/

13. Do you believe the benefits of stifling free speech in the long run will outweigh the drawbacks?

14. Why did David Stephenson resign from the US Embassy in Macedonia ? What are his current activities as a strategist in Skopje? Is the embassy or present/former staff providing advisory services to the Macedonian government or its supporters to try and pass the referendum?


15. Given that the US Embassy has for many years called for freedom of media, public association and general human rights, do you believe that the government is in danger of infringing upon Macedonian citizens’ human rights with such measures? Supporters of public opposition groups to the referendum such as #Bojkotiram have written that they fear the government will target them.

16. When the U.S. officially recognised Macedonia's constitutional name in 2004, why was that not a permanent form of recognition? The U.S. now is working hard against the name 14 years later, by promoting the Prespa Agreement. Why the reversal?

17. Does the US support the right of the Macedonians to self- determination and self-identification, basic human rights which are inalienable and guaranteed by all major human rights instruments, and if so, why does it also support the Prespa Agreement which so blatantly deprives Macedonians of these rights and imposes the use of the name Republic of North Macedonia erga omnes.?

18. In 2008 the US Embassy in Macedonia warned against official bilingualism - elevating Albanian on par with Macedonia - for fear of the country unravelling. Why has the US reversed this policy?


19. Last year the US Embassy in Zagreb, Croatia strongly criticised far right extremists who had carried the US flag during a march but in Macedonia the US stubbornly refuses to condemn World War II Albanian Nazi statues built by Albanian politicians over the past decade. Why the blatant inconsistency?

IRON MIKE FRITZ OF OTI - USAID’s “special trouble-shooting unit.”




20. Who suggested the Office of Transition Initiative (OTI) program be implemented in Macedonia, considering this has only been used in a handful of third world countries?
    - Did someone in the US Embassy in Skopje requested this? When?
    - How beneficial was it that Iron Mike Fritz is [was] Head of OTI in Washington and previously been head of USAID in Macedonia?

21. Did Ambassador Jess Baily know ex US Ambassador Phillip T. Reeker from their college days?

22. When did the US Embassy learn of the "Kumanovo shootout" of 2015 involving Albanian terrorists against Macedonia's police? How did it learn of the attack? What did the US Embassy do? Did it pass on advance warnings to the Macedonian government? - Kumanovo shootout link here



23. Why has it been US strategy in Macedonia to deliberately use Serb chauvinists who pretend to be anti nationalists and anti corruption campaigners such as Borjan Jovanovski, Pavle Bogoevski etc to attack Macedonian identity but who hypocritically refuse to protest outside the Serb Embassy in Macedonia over Serb nationalism and extensive money laundering, which the US State Department considers Serb money laundering as very grave and having an impact globally? Isn't this racist? Can you imagine a Chinese impersonating a Vietnamese? Also ex Serb strongman Slobodan Milosevic supporters / enablers such as Vlado Kambovski and Ljubomir Frckoski have also been coopted into supporting NATO. Doesn't this undermine the NATO referendum by cynically using people in Macedonia who were at one time staunchly anti NATO? Are you willing to accept that many Macedonians genuinely remain sceptical about joining NATO?

PART 2 BAILY ULTIMATUM - BRINGING THE HEAT - link here 


Thursday, September 13, 2018

THE GHOST PROTOCOL- Merkel, Mickovski, Macedonia

VMRO-DPMNE leader Christian Mickovski (centre) flanked by waiting media after his meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel at the German Embassy in Skopje, the Macedonian capital.

THE GHOST PROTOCOL - Merkel’s message to Mickovski. What did she say or rather who didnt she want to listen in? Keep British rebel group out?

by Sasha Uzunov
Skopje, Macedonia

On Saturday 8 September 2018 - Macedonia’s independence day - German Prime Minister (Chancellor) Angela Merkel arrived in Macedonia to bolster the pro NATO and Macedonia name change referendum to be held at the end of this month. She met with the country’s Prime Minister Zoran Zaev (see photo below on the right) at a political love fest that passed as a media conference.

Later in the day she met with Macedonia’s main opposition leader from VMRO-DPMNE Christian Mickovski at the German Embassy in Skopje. After his meeting, Mickovski gave an impromptu media conference outside the Embassy but did not reveal too much. Days later he came out with the Party’s official position on the 30 September referendum - which was a bit of this and bit of that - not saying boycott but not saying turn up and vote either.

MEETING TOOK PLACE INSIDE THE EMBASSY:

This is a very important point, missed by many, but not by some certain factions - perhaps too strong a word - within the British political Establishment who oppose the controversial Prespa Agreement signed by Greece and Macedonia, which in effect means erasing Macedonian identity in order to gain EU and NATO membership by removing Greek veto in both organisations. (more on the Prespa Agreement here at this link)

Last year a high ranking British source, angry with US foreign policy towards Macedonia, leaked USAID emails to TEAM UZUNOV blog which gave a glimpse into how deep deep US influence had permeated Macedonian society. see link here

MINI-TURF WAR

In fact there is a mini-turf war over Macedonia which doesn't involve the US and Russia but Germany and a tiny rebel group in London over influence.

The fear is the Prespa Agreement turns Macedonia into a de facto Hellenic Hong Kong, a province of Greece, which means German control.

Part of the reason for Brexit, was the fear of Germany taking a stranglehold on the British economy via the migrant crisis.

The majority of the British political establishment support the Prespa Agreement, more because of the UK’s membership of NATO than for anything else. The previous UK Ambassador Charles Garrett played a leading role in “name change” for Macedonia.

The Germany Embassy besides providing Mrs Merkel with physical security also “protects” her conversations from surveillance and eavesdropping.

In 2010 it was claimed the US had tapped the German Chancellor’s telephone . see link here

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

BBC BIG GUN AIMS TO “REFORM” MACEDONIA’S MEDIA


A journalist with the UK’s national broadcaster the BBC is aiming to “reform" Macedonia’s media by applying for a grant from controversial USAID, the US government’s official aid agency

Ms Rachel Wright was in Skopje, the Macedonian capital last week, when she was spotted by chance at the luxurious Marriott Hotel. She was waiting in the lobby to meet with local Macedonian journalists to put a team together in order to bid for a USAID grant. see link here

TEAM UZUNOV blog broke a story last year after a highly placed British source, unhappy with US foreign policy, leaked a number of USAID emails showing the deep involvement of the US government in funding activists groups to attack so called Macedonian nationalism but remaining silent on Albanian extremism, in particular World War II Albanian Nazi collaborator statues. see link here 

Ms Wright told TEAM UZUNOV she does not agree with the criticism of USAID.

“I’m a BBC journalist trying to help a country [Macedonia] that has a rather over-populated and under-skilled media landscape with a high level of misinformation and corruption,” she said.

She was involved in producing a documentary about the highly politicised and controversial Special Public Prosecutor (SJO) set up in Macedonia under European Union pressure - link here

At the same time that Ms Wright was in the Marriott Hotel, Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz walked past her in the lobby and into the bar to meet with local Albanian nationalist politicians Ali Ahmeti, Artan Grubi, Teuta Arifi and the controversial Nevzat Bejta who has built World War II Albanian Nazi collaborator statues in Macedonia post 2001 conflict. see link here

Chancellor Kurz later declined to comment on Bejta’s Nazi statue building projects.



MARRIOTT HOTEL - the place to be seen !

Also passing through the lobby was Christian Mickovski, the leader of Macedonia’s main Opposition party, VMRO-DPMNE, who hugged Ahmeti who was on his way to meet with Kurz.




Thursday, September 06, 2018

SPANISH AMBASSADOR DEFENDS EU FARM PROJECT FOR MACEDONIA

The Netherlands Ambassador to Macedonia, Mr Wouter Plomp (left) and
 the Spanish Ambassador to Macedonia, Mr Emilio Lorenzo Serra (right).

by Sasha Uzunov
Skopje, Macedonia
Tuesday, 4 September 2018

The Spanish Ambassador to Macedonia, Mr Emilio Lorenzo Serra, has defended a controversial European Union agricultural project which aims to “consolidate” numerous small farming plots into larger more economically viable farms. - (EU funded MAINLAND project see link here )

Mr Serra was a guest speaker at a recycling and waste management project event in Skopje held by Macedonia’s deputy Environment Minister Mr Jani Makrudli. Mr Serra also made the controversial remark, referring to Macedonia as North Macedonia. see link here

A number of Macedonian farmers contacted TEAM UZUNOV blog on the condition of anonymity to express worry over the EU’s Land Consolidation project.

They are saying that it is a smokescreen for multinationals from Germany or the Netherlands etc. to buy up their land cheaply. The Spanish Ambassador Emilio Lorenzo Serra reacted to those concerns.

“...the reason for the Land Consolidation is that if you have a very small piece of land you will have a lot more big difficulties to buy a tractor or irrigate your land properly than if you joined forces with other [land] owners. You don’t necessarily have to sell your land to big companies - as you said - from from Germany or Holland.” - Interview below.


Question mark hangs over Dutch role in Macedonia ? What does the Netherlands want to do with Macedonian farming land?

Is there a hidden agenda over the Netherland’s long standing role in shaping Macedonia’s agriculture? Dutch Ambassador Plomp’s recent bizarre refusal to condemn Albanian right wing extremism whilst pretending to be anti extremist now places a question mark over other Dutch projects in Macedonia which may well and truly be genuine. If the Dutch government can’t respond to a straight forward question about Albanian Nazi statues then how can it now be trusted in other areas?


- more on Ambassador Plomp at this link




Monday, September 03, 2018

P(L)OMP AND (ODD) CIRCUMSTANCE ?


by Sasha Uzunov
Skopje, Macedonia
Friday 31 August 2018

MONTY PYTHONESQUE? - A Zoran Zaev love fest organised by the EU to condemn right wing nationalism but the Dutch Ambassador to Macedonia refused to condemn Albanian right nationalism/extremism in Macedonia. 

The real purpose is to back Macedonia’s Prime Minister Zaev into changing Macedonia’s name - a controversial referendum will be held on it on 30 September 2018 - in order to gain EU and NATO membership by removing the veto of Greece and Bulgaria - both members of the two aforementioned international alliances. 

It’s like holding a convention of international vegetarian activities who tell people not to eat meat but they themselves eat beef hamburger or a hot dog in front of you. Hypocrisy, no doubt.

TEAM UZUNOV contacted the Dutch Ambssador Mr Wouter Plomp more than a month ago via email with a list of questions. The Ambassador had not responded so we asked him in person at the event on Friday. He felt he couldn’t condemn Nazis because he had guests in town. See and hear the video attached below. Bizarre - and I have overused that word since my arrival in Macedonia last month- sums it up.




Raw footage - In what can only be described as truly bizarre and Monty Pythonesque, the Netherlands Ambassador to Macedonia, Mr Wouter Plomp, refused to condemn right wing Albanian extremism in Macedonia, in particular the building of World War II Albanian Nazi collaborator statues in Macedonia post 2001 by pro West Albanian politicians. 

Mr Plomp was an official guest at an EU Social Democratic forum in Skopje, Macedonia in which key note speakers condemned right wing extremism in Europe but making no mention of Albanian right wing extremism in Macedonia.

Event "the “Macedonia Looking Forward: It’s Time to Catch the Train to EU” international conference organised by the Progress Institute for Social Democracy.

Key speakers: Macedonian Prime Minister Zoran Zaev, Ernst Stetter, the Secretary General of Foundation for European Progressive Studies (FEPS), Maria Joao Rodrigues, MEP. Holiday Inn, Skopje, Macedonia. Friday 31 August 2018.


Ambassador Plomp has readily advertised his concern for the Holocaust - tweeting on social media - but refused point blank to condemn WWII Albanian Nazi collaborator statues. That’s truely bizarre but hammers home the EU cynicism in that it will support anyone - despite their extremism and in this particular instance the Albanian political bloc in Macedonia - so long as they or it support the EU / NATO agenda. 


Background story to Albanian Nazi statues in Macedonia at this clip below 


Canadian Macedonian pundit Mark Branov, a spokesman for the Macedonian civic organisation, Makedonium, was bemused by Ambassador Plomp’s reaction:

"On their home turf, western politicians routinely condemn the horrors of WWII. But when asked to condemn neo-Nazi statues in ethnic Albanian neighbourhoods of Macedonia, those same officials are suddenly shy. A NATO-backed army of terrorists attacked the country in 2001, and ever since, there has been an active campaign to whitewash the historical record of ethnic Albanian extremism. After all, Ali Ahmeti is still in charge, and he is still one of NATO’s most valuable pawns in the region.”

Mr Branov, an international education consultant whose profession has taken him to India, was in Macedonia last year to eye ball the situation. He is a former Media Director for advocacy group, United Macedonian Diaspora, headquartered in the US.